Elderly care in trouble: municipalities

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Care for elderly with illnesses or handicapped citizens next year is going to be in trouble next year, as 40 percent of municipalities think it will be difficult to organize with the available budget. 

This is according to a survey from de Volkskrant which has been filled out by 161 of the almost 400 municipalities in the Netherlands.

In 2015, the municipality will be responsible for the leadership, daily expenditures and temporary housing for chronically ill and handicapped people who don't live in an institution. People who are physically unable to run a household due to illness, and still receive allowances for this via the care office, must also come to the municipality next year.

The idea is that local governance wants to stand closer to the people than the national government, so as to organize care more efficiently.

The survey, however, makes it seem that only one-third of municipalities is certain that they will be able to perform on these issues. One-fifth of municipalities already know for sure it's not going to work with the available budget. Another one-fifth is very worried.

The transfer of care for long-term illnesses and handicapped are coinciding with strict austerity measures. There are going to be cuts of 40 percent introduced to the budget for help in the household for the elderly and the ill.

Almost half of the municipalities that participated in the survey still has no idea how they will realize these cuts. Of those who do know, 46 percent feels it necessary to cut the hours of home care per person. This counts in places such as Almere, Delft and Enschede.

A minority of the municipalities want to deny certain groups of elderly their household aid. The measure most often mentioned is that of excluding higher-income groups from home care. The Association for Dutch Municipalities (VNG) earlier pointed out that this is not judicially possible. When judging home care applications, someone's income or capacity is not supposed to make a difference. Higher personal contribution can be asked for, however.

Some municipalities also answered in the survey that they want to exclude people from home care who have a stable-enough social network to be able to arrange their own help in the household.

According to the VNG, however, this support from family, friends, and neighbors - which the cabinet has emphasized several times - are not enforced. In fact, "a good talk" seems to be the only leverage the municipality has.